February 24 – Meet the Team – Mike Molter

Read Isaiah 41:10

Hello, my name is Mike Molter and I’ve been asked to do a brief bio on myself.

First and foremost, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.

I’ve also been married to my wife, Denise, for over 31 years. We have three daughters- Kathi, Nicole and Leah – and three grandkids – Lincoln, Scarlet and Colton.

My job title is Network Engineer and I work for an organization called TCCSA which helps with technology needs in virtually all of the school districts in the area.

Growing up, my family didn’t go to church and I wasn’t all that interested. When I was still in high school, I joined a bike riding group because they did long rides and it sounded like a good challenge. It turned out they were a Christian group and I also found out they were a singing group which is a whole other story. I ended up being introduced to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as my Savior. I started to grow spiritually but didn’t get plugged into to a church and things didn’t go well for years after that.

Fast forward about 15 years and I married Denise. She felt we should look for a church home and she wanted to visit Grace. I have no idea why but I didn’t even want to visit Grace. To make a long story short, we visited, came back the next week and have been going ever since. I’m so glad God led us to Grace. There have been such great teaching and growth opportunities through the years. Opportunities like being involved in outreach ministries, leading classes and going on mission trips to New Orleans, Canada, the Czech Republic, Kyrgystan and Cambodia.

Another reason that I’m very glad I’ve been involved in a church and small group became apparent over the last few years when I’ve had some significant health issues. Had I not been part of these groups, I don’t know how I would have made it.

For many years I’ve been encouraged to read God’s word, spend time with Him and turn to Him in both the good and bad times. So, when the hard times came, I had already been filling my life with God’s truth and had relationships with people who cared about us and stuck with us during the hard times. I believe one of the very significant ways that God showed His love for us was through the people I just referred to.

A verse that has become very important to me and illustrates this well is Isaiah 41:10:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

God has helped us, strengthened us and lifted us up and He did much of this through those wonderful people we are very close to. So, I highly encourage you to get involved in a church and small group and build those important relationships with God and people.

God never intended for us to try to make it through life on our own. Start the process of joining a group by filling out this form here: https://gracechurch.ccbchurch.com/goto/forms/25/responses/new

 Mike Molter

February 23 – Meet the Team – Shelly Eberly

Read Psalm 19:7-11, Hebrews 4:12 and James 1:22-25

I’ve been hungry for words all of my life. Longing for affirmation to know that I was appreciated, I would cling to words that convinced me someone was paying attention to me. I would drown in piles of painful words and float on words of kindness. I was unstable.

I’ve always been drawn to God’s word. Certain verses would hit me hard or soft, depending on the day. But I didn’t have a huge desire or discipline to read it.

I would feel guilt for that. I would make promises and plans and fail. I would soak up teaching from others. But I wasn’t too great at feeding myself.

I began reading the Bible for hours when I became a new mama. Unsure if the words were even sinking in, I kept reading. I remember being ‘lit on fire’ by the enthusiasm of Beth Moore through a few of her studies. I soaked up Christian radio while I cleaned the house and changed diapers. I began to develop a taste for these words David describes as sweeter than honey.

The more I read, the more I couldn’t put this massive book down. The more pages I consumed, the less intimidated I was by the amount of them, and the more captivated I became by the intimacy and love I discovered on each one. The more I listened to God’s voice, the more reliant on Him I became.

I went from a guilty yeah-I-probably-should-read-my-Bible type of gal to an I-can’t-wait-to-see what-He-has-to-say-today kind of follower. I was no longer lit on fire only by the insight of others, I was on fire.

And still am.

“There’s nothing like the written word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

God’s words have called me into true, abundant life. They’ve stabilized my identity, broadened my understanding, and anchored my hope. They’ve invoked honesty from my soul about my selfish nature and invited me to deeper faith and surrender. They have provided answers to my questions and given me peace when there isn’t any. By God’s grace and through the power of His Spirit, His words compel my feet to move in faith, one baby step at a time.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

John 10:27

Reading Every Day with God means you are also taking steps to listen to His voice. Keep reading and putting His truth into practice. Jesus is so worthy of your love and devotion!

You’re doing great!

Shelly Eberly

February 22 – Meet the Team – Taylor Bennington

Read 2 Corinthians 5:7

 My name is Taylor Bennington. I am a law student at The University of Akron School of Law where I have the blessing of being able to serve on our University’s Board of Trustees. I grew up in Wooster where I graduated from Wooster High School in 2015 and went on to pursue my bachelor’s degree in political science at Akron. So, I guess you can say I am a double-Zip!

The Lord brought me to Grace Church eight years ago. I was in a dark, hopeless, period of my life when I entered the doors of Grace, and I remember the Sunday so clearly when Pastor Steve Kern was preaching in the traditional venue. For the first time in my life, the gospel of Jesus had made sense to me. I haven’t looked back since. Over the years I have had the incredible opportunity by the grace of God to engage in ministry at Grace working, interning, and serving in various capacities. Currently, I serve in Grace Students where I co-lead the 12th-grade men’s Grace Group and am also a part of our Sunday morning stage team as a venue host. Suffice to say, Sunday is my favorite day of the week!

During high school, I had the chance to take part in several mission experiences. My first mission trip, however, will forever stand out in my mind. Frankly, I did not want to go. I was still very new in my faith, new to the church, and had only been attending the student services for a few weeks before the deadline to sign up for summer trips. Heck, I didn’t even really understand what a mission trip was or what I would be doing. Yet, God kept making it abundantly clear that this was the next step I needed to take. So, I signed up. The Lord used that mission trip to Chicago in ways that still have an impact on my life today. It’s where I truly learned to surrender. To have faith that the Lord’s plan is better than my own. To believe that the best is really yet to come. And, where the Spirit took my attention towards what would become my favorite verse in the Bible.

“For we live by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:7

I pray that this verse is as much of an encouragement for you today as it has been for me for the greater part of a decade. Despite what the picture might look like in front of you, or if the deck seems to be stacked against you; have faith. Believe in what we cannot see. The goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His plans and His perspective are far greater than our own.

Taylor Bennington


February 21 – Meet the Team – Jake Lawson

Read Romans 6:1-23

“…so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Becoming “alive in Christ” was a process for me. It wasn’t one moment but over the span of a year and a half. Having grown up in a Christian home and literally growing up at Grace Church, I knew the basics and fell back into going through the motions. It wasn’t until missions’ trips after my sophomore and junior years of high school to San Francisco that God really got my attention. At that point in my life, there was a lot of junk behind the scenes. Behind the “pastor’s kid” persona was a life that no one saw…I didn’t let them. Behind my knowledge of grace was a false belief that, because I was forgiven, sin could go unchecked in my life.

Over the course of those 2 combined weeks in SF, I stopped the backslide, positioned myself toward Christ and trusted in Him fully with my life, all of me was His. I placed my future in His hands.

In the year that followed, college plans fell through which led me to central Florida for 10 months to intensively study the Bible at the Great Commission Bible Institute. The very first steps of my “newness of life” was taken there in Sebring. There was a Sebring local in our class who quickly became a close friend and confidant. When I was angry and didn’t now how to react, she was there talking me through it. When I was hurting and didn’t know how to deal with the pain, she would lovingly point me back to Christ. When I needed to vent, she would quietly listen and understand.

After school in Florida, I landed a student internship here at Grace which ultimately led me to where I am now (9 years later as of this writing) serving as Next Steps Director. Currently, I oversee our groups and devotional ministries (among other things). As a young boy, I dreamed of one day following in my dad’s footsteps in being a pastor at Grace. I’m so glad that dream lined up with God’s plan for my life!

That Sebring local became my wife in 2016 and a year after, we welcomed our son, Matthew (Mattie) to the world. What an incredible family God has blessed me with : )

When I turned my life around, Romans 6:11 quickly stood out to me. As a follower of Christ, I should be “dead to sin”. The contrast between sin and our life in Christ is so distinct in this chapter and, as you read one of my favorite chapters of the Bible today, I challenge you to take an honest inventory of your life. Is there unchecked sin? Are you abusing grace? What steps do you need to take in order to live in the newness of Christ?

Just as Ultron said, “There are no strings on me” when he busted through the wall in Tony Stark’s tower in Avengers: Age of Ultron,  may verse 14 be our battle cry. Sin doesn’t have control of your life. You have experienced the newness of life through Christ…you are alive through Him!

Jake Lawson

February 20 – Meet the Team – Celeste Kern

Read Proverbs 3:5-7

My name is Celeste Kern and I am thankful to share part of my story with you today. Thank you for taking the time to get to know me.

I was born in Columbus, Ohio into a family that loved Jesus and served Him full-time. My dad was on staff with Child Evangelism Fellowship.  As I grew physically, I grew in my understanding of my spiritual condition too. I heard the gospel as my parents shared with us as a family and others they served. At a young age, I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sin and to help me to live for Him and serve Him.  I didn’t understand what that all meant but God allowed me to learn as I watched Him lead through good times and difficult times.

My life verses are in Proverbs 3:5-7. I read the whole chapter this morning and verse one flew off the page:

“My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.”

I am so thankful for the truths Scripture teaches me and for the power of having it in my heart. Being reminded that I can trust Him and that He will guide me and show me which paths to take helps me grow in this walk of faith.  I certainly continue to grow in this and have seen Him prove His faithfulness in desperate circumstances. Whether it was severe personal illness, death of a parent, death of a grandchild, threatening illnesses of our children at different times, or the transitions our family made around the world in ministry phases of our marriage, these times helped me learn to trust with “all my heart” and to “not depend on my own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).

In this trust, I have experienced His faithfulness! When situations do not make sense, I know they do to my heavenly Father. I know through Scripture and experiences that He has the best in mind for me because He cares for me.  I can remember many times when I tried to make sense of what was happening to me, only to be reminded that “His ways aren’t my ways.”. Learning to surrender to His plan for my moments continues to be my prayer each morning and to rest in what comes my way because He knows and desires to lead me.

As I close, I don’t want this to sound like “pie in the sky” as if I have it all together. I never will have it all together this side of heaven. I am too frail to comprehend all that my Savior has in store for me. So, like a child, I want to be joyful in following His wisdom and find refreshment for the faith journey in Him alone.

Take a few minutes to read Proverbs 3 and know that life in Him is the best life!

Celeste Kern

February 19 – Meet the Team – Nate Mills

Read Matthew 28:19-20

My name is Nate Mills.  I have been a member of Grace Church around 20 years.  I am married to my high school sweetheart, Carol, for 23 years.  We have 3 amazing children: Taylor, Drew and Toby.  Taylor is in her final year of under grad at the University of Akron and Drew is in his first year of school at Ashland University.  Toby is in his freshman year of high school at Wooster.

I work as a Personal Risk advisor for the Hummel Group out of our Orrville office (a fancy way of saying that I sell personal home and auto insurance).  Carol is employed by International Paper in Wooster.  I also work a side job doing “utility” work in the sports media industry.  The bulk of our opportunities come from working NFL events (Hall of Fame, Browns games and even a couple of Super Bowls).

Here at Grace, I have served in student ministry, been on mission trips, play in the worship band, am a writer for this ministry, lead a small group and am a reGen leader.

Ironically enough, I never wanted to get involved in any sort of ministry involvement at church.  However, God had other plans.  Right before Carol and I were married I was coaching baseball at a local high school.  Some of the guys I coached would approach me after practice or games and want to talk about things ranging from partying and parents’ divorce to girls.  I had no idea why they chose to approach me to discuss these things.  I was just a coach!  But for whatever reason, I was the one they chose and I was the one that God chose to be there for them.

Right around this time, we had some new guys on the staff in the student ministries department. After months of hearing the invitation at service, Carol gave me the nudge.  You know, the elbow to the rib cage nudge.  The thing was, I felt so undeserving to serve.  I didn’t know the Word the way I should, I had too much dirt in my past.  I had a wife and very young children and didn’t have time.

Excuse, excuse, excuse.

I thought back to the experience with coaching baseball.  I had already been doing youth ministry and didn’t even know it.  Matthew 28:19-20 says:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus gives his final charge to His followers before He ascended to heaven.  He tells them to GO.  He doesn’t say,  “Before you go, make sure you have these verses memorized.”  He doesn’t say that you can’t go because of your past.  He commands us to GO and make more disciples!  That is what we are called to do.  And we don’t even have to hesitate or worry about how it will go.  Will people turn away from us? Will I do poorly?  Jesus promises to get with us ALWAYS!  How awesome is that!

So, I am giving you all a nudge in the rib cage as you read this.  Where is God calling you?  What is your next step?

Nate Mills

February 18 – Meet the Team – Charline Engle

Read Psalm 71:3,16-18 and Matthew 14:22-32

We just closed out 2020 and for many of us it was a year we prefer to place far back in the recess of our memories. I agree. For our family, the year was ushered in saying goodbye to our seventeen year old dog and concluded with my husband’s job loss and search for full time employment. In the midst of so many uncertainties, I keep gravitating toward one word. Come.

I can picture Peter, soaked and battered by the storm’s wind and waves. His heart was gripped with fear as his mind and eyes played tricks on him. Needing assurance that the apparition he thought he saw was truly Jesus, he asked Jesus for confirmation of Himself. Jesus answered Peter’s fear with one word. “Come.”  To the disciples’ astonishment, he accepted the invitation, left the security of the boat and moved toward the One he knew to be his refuge and protection.  Peter had a choice to stay in the boat or step out in faith.  As a fisherman, the boat was undoubtedly a familiar and comfortable place. Since Jesus had already walked a considerable distance on the water, He could have taken a few more steps toward Peter. Instead He offered the invitation for Peter to come towards Him. Why? Because responding to the invitation requires faith. Nothing pleases God more than faith.

When I was a child, I accepted by faith His invitation, but like Peter, was gripped by fear. Although fear still tends to be my default, I can almost hear God whisper His invitation to me. My prayer is Psalm 71:3, “Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come.” Not a command to do, not an admonishment to be, but an invitation to move towards Him in simple obedience. Every dawn of a new day, every night of restless sleep, He offers the invitation to come.

Decades have passed and I still come. But now, like Peter and the Psalmist, I don’t come empty handed. “I come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God… and I still declare His wondrous deeds.”  I’m a mother of three grown children and Nana to a baby boy who has a God-story of his own. Five generations are represented on my family tree which covers my dining room wall. When my daughter painted the tree, I asked her to include the words, “Your faithfulness endures to all generations.” So often I’m reminded of my past, present and future legacy on the wall filled with photographs. My prayer is to “declare His strength to this generation and His power to all who are to come.”

Will you respond to the invitation and come to Him today? As the old hymn says, “Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come. I come.” He promises when we come, He will give rest- even in the midst of the storm.

Charline Engle

February 17 – Meet the Team – Tom Weckesser

Read Colossians 3:23

My name is Tom Weckesser. I am from Wooster. My dad was a Captain in the US Marines and my mother was a teacher. They raised me correctly. and I am very grateful. Their married life began in poverty but they changed that through hard work.

I am a graduate of The Ohio State University (B.S.) and Arizona State University (M.S.).

I met my wife, Birdie, when I sold her a Christmas tree while working for Dush Christmas Trees. We dated for five years before we got married in 1975. That was the best year of my life. We have 3 adult, married children – Jake, Katie and Mary. We now have 8 grandchildren. We spend a lot of time with all of them. That is part of our ministry.

I have been a high school teacher for 35 years and taught Health, Science and Physical Education. I was a varsity coach in boys basketball, cross country, tennis, girls basketball and golf. I was an assistant coach in football.

I now teach at the University of Akron where I have taught Fitness and Wellness, First Aid & CPR and Personal Health. I also supervise student teachers in high schools.

I was the Assistant Dean for a Christian church camp for high school kids for 20 summers with the Church of God in Ohio near Butler, Ohio.

I have been a high school football official for 26 years and basketball official for 15 years. I have coached over 400 high school basketball games and I officiated over 400 football games. It has been thrilling.

I try to live the philosophy of Colossians 3:23,

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for God, not man.”

It is my favorite verse. It helps me keep things in perspective, let Christ lead me and realize that what I do is for God and it’s not for men. Anything that we do can be a Christian ministry!

This simple verse is about attitude. Read the verse, study and memorize it. Apply it. So, whatever I am doing, whatever I am working at or participating in, I am not doing it just for the sake of doing it or just to get it done. Instead, my attitude is that I want to give it my best effort. I need to put my heart into it. “…as doing it for the Lord, not for man.”

Do things because God wants you to, not because people want you to. Treat every situation with great care and do it to your best ability as if you were doing it for the Lord. I am not really working for my boss. I am working for God.  When you start to do this, people will notice the way you act and treat others. What a great way to witness to others! Your actions speak what is in your heart.

Tom Weckesser

February 16 – Meet the Team – Tammy Finney

Read Proverbs 3:5-6

My name is Tammy Finney, but I go by “Mrs. Finney”, “Mom” and “Hey”. My husband of 13 years calls me Tammy and we have 4 wonderful children who call me mom. I am fortunate to teach in the elementary school where three of my four children attend school, so for most of each day, I am called Mrs. Finney. Then, you may be wondering who calls me Hey! Well, I hear that greeting a lot from people who are unsure if I am Tammy or Teri. You see, I have a twin sister and some people aren’t sure which one I am, so they just say “Hey!”

My story begins with a wonderful upbringing in a Christian home. I learned to trust God with my life in a very personal way as I ventured out to college. On my own, I realized I had to make choices to either follow God’s way or the way of the crowd. It was the first time I had to be intentional about my walk with God. I learned that what I put into my relationship with God was what I would get out of it. I became involved with the four14 ministry at Grace and grew in my faith throughout college. I pursued my career of being a teacher upon graduating and spent the next 10 years at Smithville High School, my alma mater. In those 10 years I planned and attended prom 4 times, earned a Master’s degree, got married and had 2 of our 4 children. Being a full-time mom was my dream job, so I made the decision to stay home after that. Recently, I returned to the classroom and enjoy the opportunity to teach young people again.

Just as everyone experiences the ups and downs in life, I have too.  One pair of verses that I have relied on during struggles is Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Time and time again, I would find myself questioning God as to why He would allow certain hardships to be a part of my life. Why do I seem to be the only one not married? What good can I bring to this child of mine with special needs? What direction do I go with my work that balances my family and career? How do I reach this person for Christ? Often, these verses would remind me that I am not God and I do not have to have the answers. I need to faithfully follow God’s leading and rely on Him, not myself. When I get to the end of me, God will be there waiting to show me the way. My hope is that by sharing my experiences through writing for Every Day with God, others will be encouraged to trust God’s way and pursue Him.

Tammy Finney

February 15 – Meet the Team – Steve Kern

Read Romans 15:14-29

It was almost exactly 16 years ago that I joined the staff at Grace Church in Wooster. Here, I have the privilege of working alongside of some incredible staff members and volunteers. Together, we help others to take next steps in their faith. I love our church!

Of course, I also love my family. My wife, Celeste, is a gem. God has allowed us to encourage one another in marriage for more than 36 years. There is no one I would prefer to hang out with than her. Together, we have two sons, a daughter, two daughters in law, and two (soon to be three) grandsons. In my spare time, I enjoy taking walks with Celeste, hanging out with family and friends, playing table games, writing, bike riding, and running.

Not everyone knows that Celeste and I lived for six years in Germany and that we speak German. We lived there engaging with Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations. Thus, our time in Germany focused on evangelism, discipleship, leadership development, and church planting.

Now, perhaps you understand better why the passage from Romans 15 means so much to me. God used this passage to challenge us to consider moving to Germany years ago. You see, the apostle Paul had his sights set on Spain. What an amazing vision! Just a few decades after the ascension of Jesus, Paul was carrying the gospel around the Mediterranean rim. The book of Acts depicts his journeys to present day Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and Italy…and that in a day without modern means of transportation. Paul’s passion was to take the gospel of Jesus to places where people did not know about Him. He had his eyes set on the western most reaches of the Mediterranean. To the apostle, that must have represented “the ends of the earth” as Jesus described in Acts 1:8.

Whether or not we uproot and learn another language, we can take the message of Christ’s death for sins, His burial, and His resurrection to people who don’t fully understand it. As a Jesus follower, each of us is called to move beyond the safe shores of relationships with other believers and into the waters where those are found, who don’t yet know Him. With whom are you doing that?

Steve Kern